Irish working days
Through previous interviews, it already became clear to me that working is not the favourite pastime of the Irish people. Most of them so it simply to earn money and that`s it. They have not got a lot to complain about: the economy is in good condition and anyone with a reasonable record had the luxury of even being picky when looking for a job. Or, as Tony (50) tells me with a smiling face: 'If you want to fight, you`ll get some. The same goes for work in today`s Ireland`. Since most of the recent industry boom has been realised by the professional services sector, I have been out on the streets again today to ask people about their experiences on the Irish work floor. That doesn`t seem to be the worst place in the world to hang out, as you can read below.
Catching working people on the streets during working hours does not seem to be a problem. Since the introduction of the smoking ban, people are no longer allowed to smoke inside the office. Instead, they gather outside in front of their office building several times a day. This is also how I meet Ross (24, legal adviser) who tells me about the working hours, generally from 9h00 until 17h00 or 17h30, with a one hour lunch break around noon. During that one hour, it is common use to go `grab a sandwich` which depending on the weather will be consumed indoors our out in the open air. Colleagues do go to the pub together, but not on the massive scale I would have expected. Unlike the pratice as I have known it thus far, this only happens at selected occasions, or on individual initiative between colleagues themselves.
Working in Ireland:
..not the worst place, except for the cramped offices
Code of conduct
Men and women are supposed to be treated equal, and according to Georgina (19, pension administrator) this code of conduct is followed quite tightly. It may be a coincidence that women also dress up in a similar manner as do the men. Many of them wear the exact same tissue, with the same patterns and colours, although their trousers and jackets have obviously been cut in a slightly different way. A good share of them seem to make up for this striking intersexual resemblance by overdoing their make-up.
The overall dress code in the office tends to be rather formal. Just looking around in the streets, you will find many a tie hanging about - some too short, others too long. No vivid colours, which matches the tendency or Irish people to be modest about themselves. There is some more room for personal expression on Fridays, when many offices allow their employees to come to work in ordinary, yet representable clothes.
Beside a total of 20 to 25 holidays per annum, gap years have recently been introduced to offer people the chance to spend a year on private projects, such as travelling or taking care of babies. Leave plans for pregnancy are as common as they are well-designed. While 3 to 5 months of paid leave are granted, mothers can take up to one year off without losing their job. In that case, the state welfare system will cover at least a part of their previously earned income.
Parttime work is not common in many areas of business. Students and foreign nationals (read immigrants) are an exception to this, and so are people with low-salary jobs. Their options are relatively restricted and include manual labour or assistance in pubs and supermarkets. Vacancies in these areas are abundant, and walking in the street you will notice a lot of advertisements attached to shop windows.
Anything negative about all this? Cramped offices. Tracey (25) and Dara (24), who work in a company that sells advertisement space to the recruitment industry. Tracey draws me a plan of the office she works in. It shows many people in the same room and half of the staff are facing the wall rather than a window or another colleague sitting opposite to them. It does not keep them from being happy about the job. They work for a start-up company, do not need to wear suits. Moreover, their managers ask for a lot of input, which gives them a solid influence on the contents of their jobs.
Most people are not too bothered to look for a job in another country. During today`s interviews, the only place that got mentioned more than once as favourite over Dublin for work was London. For two reasons: to gain more experience and to earn a higher salary for the same amount of work.
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